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The purpose of tolerating non-Muslims and of living peacefully with them, and of treating them nicely, is to present the truth to them in the best of ways so that it becomes easy for them to see and accept it.

It is because of this that the emphasis in Islam is always on inviting people to the truth, on the importance of this, on the best ways of making it, on the fact that it is the primary duty of Prophets and those who follow in their footsteps, and so on:

Thus the Prophet is told that his primary task is only to convey the message, that he is only a reminder, that he cannot guide whom he loves, that he cannot force people to accept the faith and that he must invite people to the way of God with wisdom and good admonition. Muslims are told not to argue with people of the book except in the best of ways, excepting those who commit acts of aggression.


But if they are averse, We have not sent you as a warder over them; Yours is only to convey (the Message) [42:48]


Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! your Lord is Best Aware of him who strays from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go right. [16:125]


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No Compulsion

Existing peacefully with non-Islamic beliefs is an essential Islamic principle that is clearly stated in many Qur’anic verses, and that has been practiced by Muslims throughout their history.

It is not something that Muslims impose on their religion or something that they have to resort to because of exceptional external circumstances.

Its requirement is demanded by the nature of this religion and is based on the following facts and doctrines:


a.                   Islam is God’s final message to his servants and is conveyed to them by His final Prophet, a man who is thus described by Him as being a mercy to the entire world. It is inconceivable for a religion of this nature to order those who accept it to wage war on the rest of the world with the purpose of compelling them to accept it, or wipe them out.

b.                  God himself tells His Prophet that the majority of people _ at least at his time_ will not accept Islam. How can He tell him at the same time to force them to accept it? (12:113 ).

c.                   The Prophet tells us that all Muslims will die just before the end of the world; only non-Muslims shall witness the final day.

d.                  God tells us that no one except Him has control over people’s hearts and minds. Prophets are told that they cannot guide people in the sense of instilling truth in their hearts; only God can guide in this sense. The role of Prophets and other preachers is only to guide in the sense of showing the right path.


Remind them, for you are only one who reminds, You art not at all a warder over them.[88:21-2]

Is it you (Prophet) who can force people to be believers? [10;99]

You (the Prophet) cannot guide whom you love to guide; it is God who guides whom He will.[28:56]


e.                    And if Prophets do not have the power to instill good in people’s hearts, the devil does not have the power to instill evil in them either. He can only tempt and deceive. But God ensures us that even this will not be effective unless people choose to listen to him; God comes to the help of those who seek his help and protection and guides to the truth every one who genuinely seeks it.


As to my servants, you (the Devil) have no power over them, except the deviant who choose to follow you. [15:42]

And Satan says … … I had no power over you except that I called to you and you obeyed me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. [14:22]


f.                     It is because faith is thus primarily a matter of the heart, it is necessarily a willful act; it is something that one has to choose to acknowledge, and to voluntarily act on. No one can be forced to be a muslim in this basic sense


Say: (It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all). Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve [18:29]


g.                   The famous Qur’anic verse

There is no compulsion in religion.

is in consonance with these facts and doctrines. It is not, as some might mistakenly think, an isolated verse, nor is it the only verse that states this truth. There is no compulsion in religion because it is a futile attempt to try to force a person to accept a faith.

It is not because it is in the interest of every individual to have the faith or belief of their choice, as some liberals might think. This cannot be so because some beliefs are based on falsehoods and cannot therefore be of any good to the individuals who adhere to them or to the society in which they spread.

Islam does not tolerate non-Islamic beliefs because it condones them; it definitely does not. It does so because it discriminates between beliefs and believers. Thus while it tolerates the latter and calls for treating them nicely, it does not waver in condemning the former and criticizing them severely.

Look for example at what it says about the Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus, and the way it treats Christians. It tells Christians that if God is the creator of every thing then Jesus must be one of His creations. But a creator of someone cannot be his father; a father begets his child; he does not create it. It also says, how can God be a father seeing that He has no wife, that Jesus never claimed to be God’s son, and so on.

As to the Christians it calls them, alongside Jews, people of the book, and thus accords them a special place among non-Islamic believers. Muslims are allowed to marry their women, to eat the animals they slaughter, to allow them to worship the way they choose, to allow them to serve the country they live in as citizens, and so on.


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